Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

North Korean 'spy' charged over NHS cyber attack

North Korean 'spy' charged over NHS cyber attack

The Justice Department is planning to announce charges Thursday against North Korean nationals who USA authorities have accused of being behind the massive hack of Sony in 2014 and the Wannacry ransomware attack lack year.

Thursday's announcement marks the first time U.S. prosecutors have brought criminal charges against an official associated with the Sony breach and other attacks, with the DOJ targeting North Korean computer programmer Park Jin Hyok.

The charges, part of a strategy by the USA government to deter future cyberattacks by naming and shaming the alleged perpetrators, also alleged that the North Korean hacker broke into the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016, according to a criminal complaint.

"The scale and scope of the cyber-crimes alleged by the complaint is staggering and offensive to all who respect the rule of law and the cyber norms accepted by responsible nations", said the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, John Demers. It was not immediately clear what effect they might have on those diplomatic efforts - whether, for example, North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un might walk away.

Experts at the time were sceptical about North Korean involvement in the leaks, but a Bloomberg report suggested a Sony internal report linked the attack to a group associated with Pyongyang known as DarkSeoul, which wiped out the computers of South Korean banks and broadcasters in March 2013. Trump met with leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year and has sought to secure a full commitment from the country to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea routinely denies being involved in hack attacks attributed to them.

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Specifically, Park has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Park, a North Korean computer programmer, worked for Chosun Expo Joint Venture, an alleged North Korean government front company with offices in North Korea and China, since at least 2002.

The hacking collective is also blamed for the hack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

North Korea has been linked to some of the most high-profile cyberattacks in recent years, and its hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment lead the Obama administration to impose economic sanctionsagainst the country's government agencies and senior officials. It's been a year and half since he launched a ransomware attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe.

"Our policy is to hold North Korea accountable and demonstrate to the regime that there is a cost to its provocative and irresponsible actions".

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